NM Officials Urge COVID-Safe Thanksgivings

Governor, health secretary say they are discussing redefining full vaccination to include boosters

A year ago this week, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham enacted a public health order instructing New Mexicans to shelter in place and stay home except for essential trips for health, safety and welfare. The stringent two-week lockdown came as the state—and the US— experienced experienced COVID-19 surges and right before last year’s Thanksgiving holiday, which the governor said last year she wouldn’t be celebrating.

A year later, New Mexico is once again having a surge of cases—1,530 new ones today—but no lockdowns will be coming. Instead, the governor today urged vaccinations, booster shots and adherence to a variety of COVID-safe practices over the holiday.

“Think about smaller gatherings,” Lujan Grisham said. “If you’re in a warmer community, think about being outside. If you can wear your masks except for…eating, do that. I think it’s meaningful in terms of just making sure we have good public health practices, they’re really valuable. I have a grandchild who is too young to be vaccinated, so I feel like I’m doing everything in my power to protect him in those places.”

Slide, "Safer ways to celebrate holidays." NMDOH 11.17.21.

The state continues to struggle with high cases and high hospitalizations, health officials said today.

Slide, "New Mexico COVID-19 cases by date of specimen collection Nov. 15, 2021." NMDOH 11.17.21.

Bernalillo County had 424 new cases today, followed by Doña Ana County with 236 and Sandoval County with 118. Santa Fe County had 28 new cases. There have now been a total of 298,313 cases; DOH has designated 255,650 of them as recovered.

The governor and health officials also emphasized COVID-19 boosters, which New Mexico and some other states have made available to all residents (the federal government is expected to also do so in the coming days).

Slide, "NM has joined 8 other states in opening boosters to all people 18+." NMDOH 11.17.21.

“We’re erring on the side of caution by presumptively leaning in,” Lujan Grisham said, “by making sure that all of us who can be vaccinated with a booster…do so, because we know vaccinations are the most effective tool at blunting the spread of the virus and protecting ourselves and our families.”

The state continues to see increasing numbers of residents getting their booster shots—18% so far—and has high availability of booster appointments across the state, Deputy Health Secretary Dr. Laura Parajón said, who noted that all of New Mexico right now has high spread and is effectively a “high risk setting,” which is one of the criteria under which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends boosters. “This is really a time to get your boosters if you haven’t gotten one yet,” Parajón said.

Slide, "Booster dose administration progress." NMDOH 11.17.21.

With the exception of Mora County, all of New Mexico is currently “red,” indicating high transmission, according to the most recent report on community transmission. Mora County is the only one meeting health department benchmarks of a daily case rate level close to the target of 10 per 100,000 coupled with a test positivity rate below 7.5%, both tracked over a 14-day period three other counties—including Santa Fe County—are below the test positivity rate criteria. Santa Fe County’s test positivity rate over the last two weeks was 7.09%, but the case rate is 35.1 per 100,000.

Slide, "NM is a high-risk setting!" NMDOH 11.17.21.

Statewide, the test positivity rate over seven days is 12.4%. “What this means is there’s a very high burden of disease in our community and we know this most likely represents a fraction of the true burden of disease,” state Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Ross said, noting that the test positivity rate is higher for children, which she described as “very concerning.”

Slide, "New Mexico test positivity rate is high" NMDOH 11.17.21.

The latest pediatric case report shows that 25.4% of cases in the last seven days were among children, compared with 17.3% throughout the pandemic. “We know to shut down…transmission we want to identify as many cases as possible,” Ross said. “It will really help keep our schools open and shut down chains of transmission.”

Slide, "Rising incidence of COVID-19 among children in New Mexico." NMDOH 11.17.21.

Children ages 5-11 are the latest group eligible for a Pfizer vaccine—a smaller dose—and Parajón said those also continue to increase.

Slide, "5-11 vaccines taking off quickly!" NMDOH 11.17.21.

Both the governor and Acting Health Secretary Dr. David Scrase said officials also are discussing whether to redefine what constitutes being fully vaccinated, given the evidence that immunity wanes after about six months for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and two months for the J&J vaccines.

Currently, 84.4% of New Mexicans 18 years and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 73.8% are fully vaccinated. Among that age group, 18% have had a booster shot. In the 12-17-year-old age group, 63.8% of people have had at least one dose and 55.3% are fully inoculated. Among children ages 5-11, 7.9% have had at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine. In Santa Fe County, 95.4% of people 18 and older have had at least one dose and 83.6% are fully vaccinated.

According to a Nov. 15 weekly health department epidemiology report on health and social characteristics, 79.5% of cases since Feb. 1 have been among those who are not fully vaccinated, as have 85% of hospitalizations and 91.5% of fatalities. Over the last four weeks—Oct. 18 through Nov. 15, those figures have declined to 71.3%, 79.2% and 91.6%, according to the most recent report on vaccinations, a sign both of waning immunity and the high transmissibility of the Delta variant.

Slide, "Percent of of Cases, hospitalizations and deaths by vaccine status: October 18 - November 15, 2021." NMDOH 11.17.21.

The state also announced 12 additional deaths; there have now been 5,215 fatalities, with Scrase noting that deaths appear to be plateauing.

As of today, 539 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, with six hospitals in active crisis standards of care. “Things are not going well for our hospitals,” Scrase said.

Slide, "NM Hospital Systems Capacity Self-Evaluation." NMDOH 11.17.21.

In a nutshell, while vaccines continue to protect most people against hospitalization and death, the state’s cases remain high, as do hospitalizations, primarily among those who are unvaccinated.

“We know the Delta variant of the virus seems to find any breaches in protection so anyone who is not immunologically protected continues to be at risk for an infection and these populations continue to fuel surges of activity for the virus,” Ross said.

A multi-pronged approach, Scrase noted, is required, which includes vaccines, masks and other personal and shared actions. He noted that he has heard from some who believe the state’s surge of cases indicates masks don’t work.

“It’s a complete misunderstanding of what it means to fight a disease and what it means to fight a pandemic,” Scrase said in response, and analogized the fight against COVID-19 to car maintenance. “Keeping a car running requires regular maintenance and tune-ups and rotating your tires,” he said. “Saying masks aren’t effective is like going out to your car one morning, having it not start and concluding gasoline was no longer effective.”

Slide, "Multiple layers to help prevent the spread of COVID-19—NM needs your help." NMDOH 11.17.21.

New cases

  • 424 new cases in Bernalillo County
  • 39 new cases in Chaves County
  • 11 new cases in Cibola County
  • 13 new cases in Colfax County
  • 17 new cases in Curry County
  • 4 new cases in De Baca County
  • 236 new cases in Doña Ana County
  • 36 new cases in Eddy County
  • 71 new cases in Grant County
  • 1 new case in Guadalupe County
  • 2 new cases in Hidalgo County
  • 11 new cases in Lea County
  • 35 new cases in Lincoln County
  • 5 new cases in Los Alamos County
  • 35 new cases in Luna County
  • 102 new cases in McKinley County
  • 1 new case in Mora County
  • 33 new cases in Otero County
  • 12 new cases in Quay County
  • 34 new cases in Rio Arriba County
  • 2 new cases in Roosevelt County
  • 118 new cases in Sandoval County
  • 112 new cases in San Juan County
  • 31 new cases in San Miguel County
  • 28 new cases in Santa Fe County
  • 8 new cases in Sierra County
  • 21 new cases in Socorro County
  • 8 new cases in Taos County
  • 8 new cases in Torrance County
  • 1 new case in Union County
  • 67 new cases in Valencia County
  • 4 new cases among individuals held by federal agencies at the Otero County Processing Center

New fatalities

  • A female in her 60s from Bernalillo County who was hospitalized, had underlying conditions and was a resident of the Rio at Las Estancias facility in Albuquerque
  • A male in his 60s from Bernalillo County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 70s from Catron County who had underlying conditions
  • A female in her 70s from Lincoln County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A female in her 60s from Otero County who was hospitalized
  • A second female in her 60s from Otero County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A female in her 80s from Otero County who was hospitalized
  • A male in his 80s from Otero County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 70s from Quay County
  • A male in his 50s from San Juan County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A female in her 60s from San Juan County who had underlying conditions
  • A second female in her 60s from San Juan County

Congregate facilities

The Department of Health has identified at least one positive COVID-19 case in residents and/or staff in the past 28 days at the following facilities:

  • Adobe Assisted Living in Las Cruces
  • Advantage Assisted Living in Rio Rancho
  • Albuquerque Heights Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center
  • Artesia Healthcare and Rehabilitation in Artesia
  • Autumn Blessings Assisted Living in Logan
  • Avamere at Fiesta Park in Albuquerque
  • Avamere in Rio Rancho
  • Aztec Healthcare in Aztec
  • Bear Canyon Rehab in Albuquerque
  • BeeHive Homes in Clovis
  • BeeHive Homes in Roswell
  • Beehive Homes of San Pedro in Albuquerque
  • Belen Meadows in Belen
  • Bellamah House in Albuquerque
  • Bloomfield Nursing and Rehab Center in Bloomfield
  • The Bridge of Farmington in Farmington
  • Calibre Sagecrest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Las Cruces
  • Camino Retirement Homes in Albuquerque
  • Casa Arena Blanca Nursing Center in Alamogordo
  • Casa de la Reina Assisted Living in Albuquerque
  • Casa de Oro in Las Cruces
  • Casa Maria Health Care Center in Roswell
  • Casa Real Genesis in Santa Fe
  • Cedar Ridge Inn in Farmington
  • Desert Peaks Assisted Living in Las Cruces
  • Desert Springs Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Hobbs
  • Fairwinds Assisted Living in Rio Rancho
  • Fort Bayard Medical Center in Santa Clara
  • Genesis McKinley Care Center in Gallup
  • Genesis San Juan Center in Farmington
  • Genesis Silver City Care Center in Silver City
  • Gingerich Home for the Elderly in Farmington
  • Good Life Senior Living in Ruidoso
  • Good Samaritan Society – Betty Dare in Alamogordo
  • Good Samaritan Society – Manzano del Sol Village in Albuquerque
  • Good Samaritan Society Las Cruces
  • Haciendas at Grace Village in Las Cruces
  • Lakeview Christian Home in Carlsbad
  • Las Cruces Post Acute and Rehabilitation Center of Cascadia (Welbrook Senior Living) in Las Cruces
  • Las Palomas Center in Albuquerque
  • The Legacy in Santa Fe
  • Life Care Farmington
  • Lovington Healthcare in Lovington
  • The Montebello on Academy in Albuquerque
  • The Neighborhood Health Care in Rio Rancho
  • New Mexico State Veterans Home in Truth or Consequences
  • Odelia Healthcare (Camino Healthcare) in Albuquerque
  • Palmilla Senior Living in Albuquerque
  • Princeton Place in Albuquerque
  • Ramah Adult Care in Ramah
  • The Rehabilitation Center of Albuquerque
  • The Rio Las Estancias in Albuquerque
  • Sandia Ridge Genesis in Albuquerque
  • Sierra Healthcare Center in Truth or Consequences
  • Sierra Hills Assisted Living in Truth or Consequences
  • Skies Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque
  • Sombrillo Nursing Home in Los Alamos
  • Spanish Trails Rehabilitation Suites in Albuquerque
  • The Suites at Rio Vista in Rio Rancho
  • Sunny Day Assisted Living in Gallup
  • Taos Living Center in Taos
  • Taos Retirement Village in Taos
  • Vida Encantada Nursing & Rehabilitation in Las Vegas
  • Village at Northrise - Desert Willow in Las Cruces
  • Village at Northrise - Morningside in Las Cruces
  • The Watermark at Cherry Hills in Albuquerque
  • Westwind House Assisted Living in Albuquerque
  • Willow Manor Residential Care Center in Deming

Statewide cases

County totals are subject to change upon further investigation and determination of residency of individuals positive for COVID-19.

  • Bernalillo County: 82,547
  • Catron County: 251
  • Chaves County: 13,367
  • Cibola County: 3,973
  • Colfax County: 1,543
  • Curry County: 7,667
  • De Baca County: 305
  • Doña Ana County: 33,686
  • Eddy County: 11,401
  • Grant County: 3,432
  • Guadalupe County: 635
  • Harding County: 48
  • Hidalgo County: 623
  • Lea County: 13,876
  • Lincoln County: 3,293
  • Los Alamos County: 864
  • Luna County: 4,371
  • McKinley County: 16,154
  • Mora County: 385
  • Otero County: 7,842
  • Quay County: 1,174
  • Rio Arriba County: 5,447
  • Roosevelt County: 2,863
  • Sandoval County: 17,492
  • San Juan County: 25,131
  • San Miguel County: 2,868
  • Santa Fe County: 14,121
  • Sierra County: 1,203
  • Socorro County: 1,918
  • Taos County: 2,705
  • Torrance County: 1,571
  • Union County: 379
  • Valencia County: 10,127

Cases among people being held by federal agencies

  • Cibola County Correctional Center: 455
  • Otero County Federal Prison Facility: 548
  • Otero County Processing Center: 589
  • Torrance County Detention Facility: 356

Cases among people being held by the New Mexico Department of Corrections

  • Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County: 342
  • Guadalupe County Correctional Facility: 257
  • Lea County Correctional Facility: 765
  • Northeast New Mexico Correctional Facility in Union County: 210
  • Northwest New Mexico Correctional Center in Cibola County: 130
  • Otero County Prison Facility: 473
  • Penitentiary of New Mexico in Santa Fe County: 231
  • Roswell Correctional Center: 229
  • Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility in Doña Ana County: 237
  • Springer Correctional Center in Colfax County: 151
  • Western New Mexico Correctional Facility in Cibola County: 78

*Per the health department, hospitalization figures include people who were tested elsewhere but are hospitalized in New Mexico, but don’t include people who were tested here but are hospitalized out of state.

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